Furness MP to reconvene better trains campaign with special meeting next week
THE dire state of Furness line train services and future plans for rail upgrades will be the subject of a special meeting convened next week by Barrow and Furness MP, John Woodcock.
The official reconvening of the Cumbria Better Connected Campaign by Mr Woodcock comes as passengers continue to be subjected to cancellations and delays on Northern services running to and from Barrow.
The re-arranged date of Friday October 20 comes after a previously scheduled meeting had to be postponed as it clashed with a day of industrial action by the RMT who are fighting to keep guards on Northern services.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Woodcock said: “I know passengers are sick to death of the dreadful reliability of services to and from Lancaster and up the coast and the clapped-out, uncomfortable carriages and ancient locomotives which break down, belch smoke and give a dreadful impression of the area.
“So far, the warm words from the Conservative government about local transport improvements before the election have come to nothing but we are not going to put up with a situation where ministers can find huge sums for Northern Ireland but starve the North of desperately needed resources.
“Reconvening the Cumbria Better Connected campaign next week will be a good opportunity both to quiz Northern Rail about the state of their services and to coordinate a renewed community-wide push for the improvements we need from the government.
“When I saw managers from Northern in the House of Commons this week they acknowledged that the Furness line was the biggest source of complaints for the whole network. They need to put us top of the queue for better rolling stock and so do the government who robbed this area when they redirected decent carriages from here to the Chilterns.
"The situation is now so bad that many passengers are saying they are cancelling trips because they have no confidence in the service and potential inward investors risk being put off when their first impression of the area is a decrepit third world rail line.”
The urgent need for rail improvements has also been identified by the GSK Ulverston Taskforce seeking to attract potential new buyers to take over the site.
Mr Woodcock first unveiled the Cumbria Better Connected campaign in 2012 with the aim of retaining the direct service between Barrow and Manchester airport. Invitations have been sent to key stakeholders including rail users, members of the business community, local authorities and trade unions who will meet at the Coronation Hall, in Ulverston.